Sunday, May 17, 2020

Brenda Littleton - Breakfast and Bukowski

Water Dream by Brenda Littleton
May 4, 2020

            “Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness. I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.” Charles Bukowski.
            Bukowski lived around the corner from a breakfast cafe, where I'd often spend my mornings eating huevos rancheros and drinking boiled espresso. San Pedro in the '80s was still edgy with a thriving dock life, grunge bars, Slavonic bakeries, and a milieu of other Mexican, Greek, Sushi, English Pubs and Beach eateries. The Waters Club was cheap rehearsal space for local bands by day, and at night the South Bay's best let fly an incubated rock frenzy, the kind of lineage of Mad Max meets Nirvana meets Fleetwood Mac: Sensuous hard rock on the water, the kind you'd play on the backside of Catalina Island holding a bottle of tequila close for the night.

            There was a flavor of Gaffey Street, 5th & 6th Avenue. Frame shops, art and antique galleries, tattoo parlors and the Army Surplus lived at the hem of the port town. The smell of piss, fog, sake, hot cinnamon buns, and fish lingered well after dawn. Along the esplanade, the Merchant Marine retirement home welcomed men from an earlier way, where the life-miles of these seafarers were logged in with weigh points, knots, datum notes, and types of water visibility. I fell in love with a blues guitarist in Sacred Grounds coffee club. Across the street was the Warner Grand Theatre, where I once danced as a ten-year-old ballerina. Lee Michaels, the rock-blues organist (Stormy Monday), had bought the venue as his private residence, and hibernated inside like the phantom of the opera.

            Somehow during this time, the Warner Grand showed newly released feature films, and Charles Bukowski would go and watch them. I'd imagine him sloughed down into the red velvet seats, smelling of vanilla tobacco and stubble. The next morning, he would hang a chalkboard out of his second story, cream clapboard apartment window, with his rating of the film. Ten was the best, as was an exclamation mark. Most films came in with a three or a four. I always took heed of his critiques. I'd look for them, and I know my decision to eat at that cafe was based on being close to Bukowski. So, when I'd get out of my car early morning, into the receding fog, wearing flip flops and a hoodie, I'd look up to just catch a glimpse of his hand tossing the board out of his window. It was attached by an old lanyard, something off the docks. I often saw his hand moving from one world back into his private reality. I remember thinking of the metaphors that swam around him in my mind: of him giving me a 'hand-out'. I learned to understand his gestures: if he haphazardly tossed the chalkboard out where it clapped against the side, then I knew the rating was low. If he carefully positioned the board in a quiet way, the rating was high.

            His life of soul and madness and writing lingers in me as I remember not only my life in San Pedro, but today's anniversary of Kent State, of the golden era of L. A. music, of a time of innocence.

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The artwork, Water Dream is an original piece by Brenda LittletonWriter, poet, professor, literacy of place, Jungian archetypal psychology, equine psychology, alchemy, dream-tending, community, meaning-making, working with gold, silver threads and silk. Born the backside of Vancouver Island; renewed on the black beach of Santorni; risen from ashes in Aguanga; tenderly unfolded in Topanga, busting wide high with inner sky in Joshua Tree.

1 comment:

  1. Awwwww. You helped me remember those good ole days in Pedro. Thanks!!


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